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Article thanks to Fergal Lynch – The Meath Chronicle
It has been quite the few months for Meath LGFA star Stacey Grimes.
Five days before Christmas she played a crucial role in helping guide Meath to the Ladies All-Ireland IFC crown and a couple of weeks ago her role in that victory was honoured with a place in the intermediate Team of the Year.
To cap it all off, this week the Seneschalstown player landed her ‘dream job’ when she was appointed Meath LGFA’s first Games Development Officer, she will take up the role in April.
“I have been playing Gaelic football all my life and the sport has given me great friends and great joy. I have loved every minute, so now it is really nice to have a job where I can try to implement stuff that I learned when I was with Seneschalstown, Rathkenny and Meath,” Grimes told the Meath Chronicle.
“It is important for me to be able to facilitate girls and give them the best platform to have opportunities like I had and to be able to enjoy playing sport because it is a great outlet.
“This is a dream job for me and I really thank Meath LGFA Co Board for trusting me with the position and giving me the opportunity. Yes this is a job, but it is a job in football and for me that is an amazing opportunity and I can’t wait to get started.”
So what does the newly created position of Games Development Officer entail?
“I will be aiming to develop player pathways by going into clubs and seeing how I can facilitate them, support them and give them the best possible chance of competing at their level,” explained Grimes.
“I will be assisting clubs in any way I can to help them develop their underage systems, to make sure there is a player pathway from under-4s right up to senior adult team. I want to help the different age groups transition to the next age group and make sure there is football for everyone.
“I will also be helping to develop and improve coaching within the clubs. I will help the clubs identify what their coaches need, such as Foundation courses, Level One courses, and help them get what they need to bring their club on to the next level.
“I will try to facilitate the coaches with maintaining communication links with the players and I will listen to what they have to say and try to help them get what they need to improve all the time. I will be there to support the players, coaches and clubs to help them out and give them any support I can.
“I will be the liaison between the clubs and the Co Board, we will be having a meeting every month and we will keep those lines of communication wide open. We are not going to be in the schools at the moment because the GAA cover most of the schools with a Games Promotion Officer (GPO), but down the line I will be hoping to link in with those GPOs and see where I can help in terms of girls football.
“In terms of the clubs development I will be looking to see that every coach has the appropriate qualification to be working with their different age groups and if they don’t then I will be aiming to help them achieve those levels of qualifications and we will help the clubs get as many high quality coaches as possible.
“It’s all about upskilling the coaches and giving them the best support that is available to them to help them pass on their coaching skills to help the players.”
One of the biggest issues facing the LGFA is the fall off in particpation rates once their players reach a certain age and that is something Grimes is hoping to address and ensure doesn’t happen in the future.
“One of the first things I will be doing is auditing the clubs to see what teams, players and coaches they have and from that information I will be aiming to ensure that they can provide football for all age groups and ensure we keep as many young girls playing football as we possibly can,” said Grimes.
“I will be aiming to identify why players from u-13 to u-18 don’t have a clear pathway to football. I want girls coming out of under-14 football to have a under-15 team, we don’t want them to be giving up or having to step up to try to compete to get on an under-18 team all of a sudden.
“We want girls to be playing with their own age group so that they are developing at the right age group. Obviously as they get older and if they are capable of playing at an older level that could happen, but initially it is important to playing with your own age group and not be trying to play at a higher age group and possibly being too far behind.
“Obviously player burnout is a massive issue too and we don’t want players playing too far outside of their own age group because then there is huge demands on them. That is why we want to make sure that there are age groups of all ages that can facilitate their growth and development within that age group.
“From under-13s to under-17s there would be a high drop off rate, so that is an area I will definitely be targeting. Hopefully from next year we will be able to organise Easter Camps and Summer Camps for that age group, just to target their skills and show them that football is fun.
“We will also be tying in with the LGFA strategic initiatives too such as the Gaelic4Teens and Gaelic4Girls and working with them to deliver to the clubs. It is really all about developing the clubs and helping to upskill the coaches, particularly at the under-age levels,” she enthused.
After helping Meath finally get over the claim and claim the Ladies All-Ireland IFC t
itle at the third time of asking, Grimes was delighted to be recognised with a place in the Intermediate Team of the Year, but she strives to improve and knows that life in senior football is only going to get tougher – but it’s a challenge she is relishing.
“It is always nice to get recognised with a place on the Team of the Year, but I wouldn’t have been there without the brilliant efforts of all my team mates. I’m delighted to be named on the team and it certainly topped off a great year for me,” said the Seneschalstown star.
“All the girls and the management have worked so hard to get there over the last three or four years, so to finally get over the line and win the All-Ireland was a great achievement. Then for some of the girls and myself to be named on the Team of the Year that was great too.
“Despite the disappointment of the previous two years I never felt that winning the All-Ireland was going to pass us by. I knew what this team was capable of and we used that personality and determination to really push on and work hard to achieve our goals.
“We knew our strengths and everyone worked so hard, so it was just about delivering performances and we are delighted that we got there.
“As players we are always probably our own worst critic, but I’m always trying to be better to help the team get over the line, all I want to do is be the best version of myself I can be for the good of the team.
“There are times when you would be content with your game or how you played, but I always want to be better, I always want to push myself to see how much more I can do to help the team.
“There is always that drive to be better in the next game and in the next training session, to find those extras margins to improve overall.
“I know that as we go further on the games are going to get tougher, so we always have to push ourselves to get better all the time.
“Our short term goal is obviously to get back out onto the pitch, but for the team we know we are going to be playing Dublin this year and that is the type of huge challenge we have worked so hard to get.
“We are under no illusions of how difficult it will be at senior level, we know we are going to have to step it up to another level, but I definitely believe that the girls and the management team have it in us to compete.
“There is going to be a huge transition from intermediate to senior, but once we get a feel for it I think we will settle into senior level very well.
“Girls like Shauna (Ennis), Maire (O’Shaughnessy) and others have played at senior level before so they know what it takes, so it is just about getting going and improving our fitness levels.
“This is where we want to be. We want to be playing senior football against the best teams and against the best players in the country, so we are really looking forward to the challenge and can’t wait to get back out onto the pitch and challenge ourselves,” concluded Meath’s new Games Development Officer.
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